On the slopes of Beech Mountain Resort this week you see a lot of snow and a lot of skiers. Some of them are using modified equipment. They are enjoying a four day Adaptive Ski Clinic.
(WBIR-Beech Mountain Resort) On the slopes of Beech Mountain Resort this week you see a lot of snow and a lot of skiers. Some of them are using modified equipment. They're taking part in a four day adaptive ski clinic.
Skiers with disabilities are outfitted with specialized equipment and taught by experts.
Volunteers and instructors help people with disabilities hit the slopes. Emily Stroud and Brian Holt
Gina Lackey is one of the ski students. She has cerebral palsy.
"When I started doing it I was like Ok, what is it going to be like. And it ended up being like flying like a bird," Gina Lackey said.
The Murphy family skied a lot but stopped after Connor was born with Spinal Muscular Atrophy. Then they discovered the clinic sponsored by Disabled Sports USA, Carolinas Rehabilitation, and the Patricia Neal Rehabilitation Clinic in Knoxville.
"It's a lot of fun," Connor Murphy said.
His mother Lise Murphy said, "He loves it. The faster the better. He is a very daring... and can do just about anything down this mountain."
She is happy to say it is their family's seventh time here. "It has changed our lives. So we come up here every single year and Al puts on an incredible program and it gives us a chance to get out and have fun."
Al is Al Kaye. He works at Patricia Neal Rehab and has been part of the adaptive ski clinic for 31 years.
"We bring a lot of smiles to people. We're able to restore people's abilities and restore their lives so through that we have a lot of happy faces," Al Kaye said.
The four day clinic at Beech Mountain Resort depends on more than 50 volunteers and 10 teachers from ski towns like Crested Butte, Breckenridge, and Lake Tahoe who specialize in adaptive snow instruction.
"These are the top of the top. In other words they're not just instructors, they're instructor trainers. I have two Hall of Famers here. So they're a very elite group," he explained.
Lise Murphy said, "They're wonderful, they're caring, you couldn't ask for any better people to help you and you feel secure letting your child go down the hill because their life is in their hands as they are zooming down the mountain."
Instructor Gene Gamber lives in Breckenridge, Colorado where he runs an adaptive ski program.
"I've found working with people with disability issues is a higher degree of motivation so I think it's more fun," he said.
It's certainly fun for Gina Lackey, who has learned to trust the instructors.
"You just try to do whatever they tell you to do. And it's ok if you mess up because you can try again," she said.
If you mess up just try again because just like with typical skiers, expect a few wipe outs. And expect a good time with good instructors.
"And it's nice because the same ones keep coming back year after year and so we feel like we get to know them and it's kind of like a little family we see once a year," Lise Murphy said.
Gene Gamber said, "You get the family into a new sport. You get them to see the potential of what their family members really can do and not what they can't do."
What they can do is ski.